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Isaiah Curwen (Earth-616) from All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Vol 1 10 0001
Silver Dagger
Quote1 Where are your taunts now, costumed clown!? Quote2
Amazing Spider-Man Vol 4 1.6 Textless
Spider-Man
Quote1 Where d'you want 'em, Baldy? Quote2

Appearing in "If I'm To Live...My Love Must Die!"

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Synopsis for "If I'm To Live...My Love Must Die!"

Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel, still disguised as ordinary people, crouch over the inert form of Dr. Strange in the sanctum of Marie Laveau, the Witch-Queen of New Orleans. The witch-queen has taken the astral form of Dr. Strange to the astral plane, where he hopes to learn the spells that will liberate his disciple and lover, Clea, whose soul is imprisoned in the realm within the Orb of Agamotto. Strange does not trust Marie but he has no alternative. Thus, as the mystic master and the witch-queen pass out of areas of the astral plane that he knows into ones he has never explored, he opens his mind for full telepathic rapport with her. The agony is unendurable, but he realizes that there can be no turning back. Whatever happens, he is at her mercy.

As soon as Strange telepathically links with Marie Laveau, the disguises he had cast of Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel fade away, revealing their costumes, just as the door bursts open and the purple-costumed figures, armed with guns and swords, who had surrounded Marie Laveau's shack break in. Ms. Marvel quickly tells Spider-Man to get Dr. Strange's body to safety, because as long as he is entranced, he is vulnerable. Then she flashes through the attackers, her fists flying. Spider-Man, too, knocks some of them away. Unfortunately, as soon as the battle seems over, the assailants rise up unscathed and attack once more. Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man are forced back toward Dr. Strange, who is the real target of the assault, and they realize that against such an army they must eventually lose.

Meanwhile, on the astral plane, Marie Laveau funnels volumes of eldritch Shiatra lore into the mind of Dr. Strange. It takes all of his strength of will to keep from being overwhelmed with evil. It is a terrible risk, but he endures for Clea's sake, until suddenly a mystic ankh appears on his forehead, signaling mortal danger. The trap is sprung, says the witch-queen as she casts a spell that seems to shatter his astral form. A pity, she says, because he was her "last real hope." At the same time, a chaos of light and sound surrounds Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel, and suddenly Silver Dagger, accompanied by Marie Laveau, materializes in her sanctum. Marie's violet-robed acolytes vanish, while Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel are instantly entrapped in the mystic Crimson Bands of Cyttorak. The Orb of Agamotto has been transported there as well. Spider-Man can see that Dr. Strange is still entranced but barely alive, so he asks Dagger what he has done with him. Dagger gloats that Strange trusted Marie Laveau but he did not know that Dagger had mystically enslaved her. When Strange dropped his guard, Marie cast a Spell of Transference that returned Dagger to Earth and trapped Strange within the realm of the Orb of Agamotto. When Spider-Man looks into the Orb, he can see Dr. Strange's astral form reviving.

The first thing Strange sees is the talking caterpillar — a permanent resident of the insane world within the Orb. Then Strange quickly flies to the White Queen's castle, where Clea was to be burned at the stake. Unfortunately, the mystic fire has nearly consumed her, and all of his spells prove ineffective. He can only watch as the woman he loves dies, and part of his soul dies with her. Fortunately, nothing, not even death, is as it seems within the Orb. As Strange continues to watch, the fire turns into a chrysalis of energy that bursts to reveal Clea reborn as a fiery demon. She is no longer the Clea that Strange loves, but as she might have been, had she been raised as her true mother's daughter. (Although Dr. Strange does not yet know it, Clea's mother is Umar the Unspeakable, sister of the dread Dormammu.) Clea immediately attacks Strange with a barrage of powerful spells.

Silver Dagger is too preoccupied by what is happening to Dr. Strange in the Orb to notice Spider-Man pull a picture to the floor with a web-strand. The noise distracts him, but when he tries to investigate, he falls on his face because Spider-Man has webbed his ankles together. This breaks his spell of imprisonment, and the Bands of Cyttorak shatter, freeing Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel. They slam him through the ceiling and then follow him to the roof, trying to keep him from casting more spells. They do not see Marie Laveau reach for Sliver Dagger's shiny blade, which fell from his boot when he toppled. Arrogant beyond measure, Dagger floods his muscles with the strength of Satannish and punches Spider-Man in the Jaw.

Within the Orb, Dr. Strange protects himself from Clea's onslaught behind the Shield of the Seraphim. He is amazed that she counters his spells almost before he casts them, keeping him continually on the defensive. Thus the battle rages on two fronts at the same time: Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel versus Sliver Dagger on Earth, and Dr. Strange versus the demon-Clea in the realm of the Orb of Agamotto. As Silver Dagger pummels Spider-Man, Clea uses the fatal Fangs of Farallah, and Strange tries to trap Clea within the Rings of Raggadorr. Strange realizes that Sliver Dagger's spell was a masterstroke, because it forces him to choose between sacrificing his own life and that of the woman he loves. That thought causes Strange to hesitate briefly, and Clea, spotting that hesitation, takes advantage of it by unleashing a devastating attack that breaks through his shield.

Back on Earth, Silver Dagger, at last, begins to gather his mystic powers. Using spells, he slowly forces Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel back into Marie Laveau's sanctum and then a spell shoves Spider-Man against the crystalline Orb of Agamotto. Tentacles emerge from the sphere and physically pull him inside as Ms. Marvel strives with her Kree powers to counter Dagger's magic. In the realm within the Orb, which has begun to take on the aspects of Dormammu's Dark Dimension, the reality that Clea knows best, all seems lost for Strange who can no longer tell what's real and what's illusion. However, once Spider-Man enters the Orb, parts of his New York City reality begin to displace the Dark Dimension aspects. When an image of the Punisher machine-guns Clea in a surprise attack, Dr. Strange takes advantage of the fact that she's distracted by Spider-Man's reality imposing itself on hers and quickly overpowers her. At the same time, Silver Dagger casts a spell that makes him grow in size and strength, but before he can defeat Ms. Marvel, he collapses, struck from behind by his own dagger, wielded by Marie Laveau.

At midnight, in the upstairs study of Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, Wong is startled when Strange (carrying a shrunken Orb of Agamotto), Ms. Marvel, Marie Laveau and Spider-Man (carrying the unconscious Silver Dagger) all materialize behind him. Strange quickly frees Clea's soul from the Orb, adding a spell to keep her from remembering her experiences until he can investigate everything that happened. As she revives and embraces him, he wonders what part of her was represented by the fire-demon that he fought, and where and how she learned to wield its power. The mortally-wounded Silver Dagger is quickly returned to the Orb since it is the only prison Strange knows of that could hold him. Strange is aware that doing so is a risky gambit because, if Silver Dagger should ever face Death and survive, and thereby attain true enlightenment, then his next battle with Strange might end differently. Then Strange thanks Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel for their invaluable aid and the two heroes leave.

Once they're gone, Strange asks Marie to explain how she managed to overcome Silver Dagger's spells. She replies that she was able to bend them enough to send Strange the warning in the tarot cards and later to send her acolytes to slay Strange's physical form when they were both on the astral plane. Had Strange been slain, Silver Dagger would have remained trapped forever within the Orb of Agamotto. She serves the Old Gods, she continues, and even though Silver Dagger promised to spare her if she served him, she knew that he was lying, and so she bided her time until the appropriate moment to strike. Then, as she casts a spell to transport herself to New Orleans, she tells Strange to heed the tarot, for its prophecy is not yet done. As Strange holds Clea, he thinks of the final card of the tarot layout, the Tower. It is the most ominous card in the deck, portending his utter destruction. In saving Clea, he may have lost his own soul forever.

Notes

  • This is the last story in which Agamotto's "realm of unreality" is described as being within the Orb of Agamotto. By the time that Doc next visits that realm, in Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #6, he will have learned that it actually exists as its own separate dimension, and that in past stories (like this own) the Orb and the Eye have really only functioned as portals to that realm. It will also be in that future story that this realm begins to be consistently referred to as Agamotto's Dimension.
  • Based on this story, it seems that the size and shape of the Orb of Agamotto can be changed somewhat.

Continuity Notes[]

  • An Ankh appears on Doctor Strange's forehead, a mystical ability that warns him when he is in mortal danger. This is an ability he gained in Doctor Strange (Vol. 2) #4.
  • Doctor Strange was originally imprisoned inside the Orb of Agamotto in Doctor Strange (Vol. 2) #1 when he tried to use its power to stave off his impending death (due to a fatal injury inflicted upon him by Silver Dagger's enchanted Silver Dagger). However, as the Caterpillar explained to him back then, by using the Orb Strange had inadvertently opened himself too completely to unreality and it had reacted by reaching out and capturing him. It wasn't until the end of that storyline that it was revealed that only Strange's soul had been pulled into the Orb and that his body had been left behind on the floor of the Sanctum.
  • Later, when Doctor Strange used the Eye of Agamotto on Silver Dagger and forced him to understand his insane obsession in Doctor Strange (Vol. 2) #5, the unreality of his life attracted Agamotto and the glow from the enlarged Eye swept out to engulf him and pull him (body and soul) into Agamotto's realm of unreality.
  • In this issue, Spider-Man was also pulled physically pulled into the Orb, unlike both Clea and Strange, whose souls existed within that realm while their bodies remained on Earth.

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